There is a club of sorts, for those of us with cancer. Once word gets out that you are a member you will be amazed by the number of people who know the secret handshake and have experiences to share. I am ever so thankful for these fellow warriors. Because truly, the doctors leave you guessing most the time. In fact it feels like you are on a never ending roller coaster of surprises.
This process is interesting because you feel the whole time like you are fighting for control of your medical/health destiny. Hearing from others who have experienced, are experiencing or are just beginning is helpful. The tips, ideas, web resources, options, alternatives, doctors and understanding are so empowering when you often feel powerless.
Doctors do their best but they forget a lot of little details – well some big ones too. For example a little one like “surprise IV contrast!” during the breast MRI. Would have been nice to prepare for that in advance. Or a big one, like “surprise menopause with chemotherapy.” Wait.. what? WHAT?! The doctor was well meaning, in saying, “Well at 43 you are probably pretty over your cycle.” Um, yeah, sure. I was over it after the first one I had to be quite honest, but that does not mean that blindly walking forward into it at 43 followed with an aromatase inhibitor for 5 years is what I want to do… And by the way, it was through my own research that I found out about this little menopause surprise, not the doctor. But this is all “understood” to them – part of the process – they take it for granted because they live it daily… seemingly forgetting that I just got here.
Friends and fellow warriors also have the inside scoop on things that can make life easier during this process. Great example, a friend sent me a link to a top that will hold the drainage bulbs and make life a little easier that 7-14 days post operative. (For those who are reading this and just starting your adventure, you can find the tank here: http://softeeusa.com/softees/softee-roo-recovery-camisole-412.html#.VQujX8ZA3Vs). Another friend sent me a great book, “A Breast Cancer Alphabet.” And a few friends have shared some alternative treatment options I am exploring and am sure to write more about later. 🙂
It has also been really powerful to hear from the guys who have their own cancer experiences. Their perspectives and insights are equally important and powerful. I am so thankful for those who reach out.
If it were not for the generously shared experiences, recommendations and advice from others, not to mention that sense of camaraderie, cancer would be a gloomy, lonely scarey place. However, these powerful warriors make you feel part of a unit fighting the good fight.